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Learn From Experience: Andrea La Sorsa

Andrea La Sorsa

Born in Taranto on March 9, 1983.

The passion for photography was born about two years ago (2018) when I had three hands a Minolta srT101 had as a gift, and I resumed in hand the analogue photo with its home-made development of black and white negatives.

In my family I have always breathed photography, in my parents’ house there were boxes of negatives, with vacation photos and portraits made by my father.

My grandfather was one of the few photographers in my town, but unfortunately he passed away when I was still too young to understand the beauty of photography.

I grew up on bread and computers, I was born as a computer scientist and currently work in cyber security.

I’m a big fan of music, I played guitar in some rock bands in southern Italy and put records in various places as a DJ.

I prefer Street Photography, I like to be among people and look for the perfect moment and composition. Shooting with very short lenses (18mm) I immerse myself in the scene and many times I happen to explain to people what I’m doing, because they are curious and it is one of the most beautiful and important part of the street.

My equipment for the street is currently a Fuji mirrorless 18mm fixed (XF10), I prefer to stay very light on the street.

In some cases I carry a Fuji X-T3 with 35mm. 

I also practice studio portraiture, I like to be able to capture the perfect moment of the subject, a stolen glance or an almost hinted smile.

For studio portraiture I use a Fuji X-T3 with 85mm F1.8, Beauty Dish, LED panel for shades and flash for the background.

My contemporary references are Eolo Perfido, Stefano Mirabella, Platon, Alex Webb, Tatsuo Suzuki, Alan Schaller and many others.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I don’t have precise rules, I rely a lot on instinct and what I like.

I love walking down the street, I like to do it even without a camera, because now having the eye of the photographer, you see the world differently. Many times it happened to take pictures with the phone not to miss that particular situation, now the smartphones mount lenses almost professional, where you can get out really nice work. Nowadays there are many photographers who use only the smartphone to be able to make reportage projects.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

By now, technology has made great strides, the kids of my generation straddled the transition from analog to digital. We saw the creation of new devices, from the first DSLR to the first Smartphone. Today’s kids were not so lucky, they found themselves holding ipads and iphones at an early age, something that was unimaginable to us. So back to the question nowadays there is no precise combination, all lenses are now very good lenses and even an entry level SLR is still a good machine and you can get really amazing results. I initially used a Canon 200D with its 18-55 and I can assure you that came out of the beautiful works.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

When you start comparing yourself with other photographers and understand the world behind it, the change happens every day. Even just participating in a two-day workshop changes your way of looking and using your camera in a different way. Every experience, even the simplest, enriches you.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

Difficult situations often happen, especially when you do street photography, but this type of photography the risk is really a part of it, it’s different from when you shoot in a studio. During some portrait sessions more than difficulties, I had the anguish of not getting out and communicating what I wanted. but I think it happens a little bit to everyone. afterwards you learn how to handle the subjects, how to know how to position it and how to get out of the model what you really need both you and them.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

As I said above, the approach is very important. I have learned various socialization and relationship techniques for both street and portrait.

Some good portrait photographers, have always taught me that the important thing is to give confidence, because if you convey insecurity on the other side they do not perceive the professionalism and the game can not go on.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

I don’t have any secret techniques, but I can tell you that patience helps a lot during the Street, staying in one place for a long time waiting for the right subject for the scene to pass, and not changing location all the time.

As in a famous scene in Batman Begins “you have to study well the terrain of confrontation”.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I use a Fuji XF10, a compact camera that is very portable and easy to use, very convenient for the street. For the studio I have a Fuji X-T3 with an excellent 85mm, but in other sessions where I want the subject completely in sight I use a 35 or 50mm.

I don’t think the equipment is essential, but having a nice arsenal let’s say it helps a little bit.

Also, I often have to use analogue cameras, and I complete the work with in-house development.

How do you relate to your customers? Do you choose them or do you let chance bring them to you?

At the moment I don’t have any real clients, but they are models who work in TF, so we both gain, me for the experience and them for receiving work in return.

Do you think there is a perfect age to start being a photographer?

I started late, although photography has always been at home with me, my grandfather was a photographer, my uncle was a photographer and my father has always been a big fan. I remember the first Nikon SLR of which he was very jealous, the first time he let me try it I was in the third grade and after a while, when he saw that I took care of the camera and showed interest, he lent it to me for 5 days, during the eighth grade trip. It was a great emotion for me, I have to tell you the truth.

What have been the consequences of COVID19 in your work?

The covid as I think all of us have done has not helped our work, it has only complicated it, but it has given us the opportunity to discover new things. for example I have participated in many interesting webinars. there have also been many interviews on instagram that have really given us the opportunity to meet great authors.

Are there any books you would recommend?

Photography Lessons by Luigi Ghirri

Creative Photography by Franco Fontana

Drunk Companion by Charles Bukowski

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

If you are a creative, anything around you stimulates you, from food, to a song heard on the radio, to a person walking by, everything or nothing can inspire you.

You might even have a great idea in a totally non-creative context, like standing in line at the post office.

You just have to know how to look.

Andrea La Sorsa

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Learn From Experience: Lorenzo Boffa

I was born in a small town near Milan in 1995 and always wanted to go further and see bigger spaces than that. I basically started photographing at 16, i think because couldn’t paint and wasn’t interested in playing any instrument neither: I actually had never seen myself as an art-guy before. Although I developed a love relationship with my first Nikon d3000, taking it wherever I’d go, I’ve never thought about photography as a job. I got a degree in Philosophy in Bologna, those years still mean a lot to me, because I developed a big part of my ideas and values in that period. After that, I made the most beautiful trip of my life: from Bologna to Beijing only by train, crossing Russia, Mongolia and exploring Gobi desert. Then I moved to Madrid to continue studying, resulting in a discrete failure, but after that crisis I had got closer to my narrative vocation and renew my passion for photography. I’m currently studying journalism and reportage in Rome to turn this vocation into a job and photography is still my primary mean of communication.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

I mostly shot street photography, which seems a kind of unruled photography genre, it’s basically go out and shoot people in their environment. Anyway i’d say don’t shoot homeless people or poor people begging on the street, because i see they’re vulnerable and I don’t want to “use” their condition to make them just an object of a random photo. This is the same reason why i try to force myself not to shoot old people and kids too much, even if it’s not exactly the same thing. Of course, if I have a clear idea of what i want to tell with those pictures and am pretty sure of my relationship with those subjects, i’m fine with photographing vulnerable subjects. I’m also ok with asking permission for pictures, when i don’t feel comfortable with stealing the shot or when i want to get a clearer image of what interested my in somebody: it’s a good way to both get a deeper sight on people and overcome fear.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

Of course this is very personal but i can say what works for me. For example, i spent a lot of time shooting candid portraits using the tilted screen of my Nikon d5000: i remember that this tool gave me a lot of freedom, since i could get really close portraits (in the metro or on the bus) avoiding being noticed, for example, pretending i was shooting something right behind them. Another technique i used to employ in the same situation was this one: i would pretend to shoot something around, then starting to actually take photos of the subjects while pretending to look at the previous fake shoots on the tilted screen. Another good technique i learned from Lucas Kordas is the “series” technique, so i would start shooting at a subject of interest from a further position, then getting closer while shooting repeatedly (sometimes i would continue to shoot after passing by, pretending i’m shooting to something else) in order to get more likely good shots and be able to mask my intention.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

When i started taking pictures i was shooting at everything that was drowing my attention but always from a far point of view. Once i was in Greece during a trip. While walking around an island I saw an old men sitting whose face was very hypnotic. I definitely wanted to take a picture of him but in order to do it i had to get close and ask. I was afraid, but a friend of mine pushed me… And it actually went great! I got a shot i was so happy about and we spent a good time talking about his experience during WWII against the Italian forces. From that moment on, i had no fear of approaching people, i started asking portraits, sharing chats with subjects and my photographic world really opened up. Plus, i discovered i really like this kind of contact with people and now i’m currently studying to turn this affinity into a proper skill in order to become a reporter.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

Well, in 2015 – 2016 – 2017 i almost stop taking pictures daily because i couldn’t look at people’s faces without feeling intimidated. I could only shoot when i was traveling. It was a hard time for me. To overcome this problem i started shooting analogue, because it made me feel less intimidated and it has been a chance to think photography differently. Also, i developed a new sensibility for inanimate things, such as walls, scratched hanged papers, tossed objects, sprayed signs: this has been very helpful for me to feel confident when i started taking pictures again to overcome the “photographer block”. By that time i also started doing collage, which was a great experience to think outside the frame. Of course my problem with photography was the reflection of a bigger problem i was having with myself, my identity and self confidence. So, the solution for this came with a lot of struggle with depression and insecurity, which is still the path i’m following now, but today i feel more conscious.

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I tend to pay respect. At the beginning, i was just thinking that my photography was kind of a gift to the people and the world because i could make them look beautiful. Now i understand that i want something more. For example, i’m currently more interested in taking pictures that reveal some sort of secret of the subjects, which is also a secret of mine that i see in them as a reflection. So i’d say i’m currently in an empathetic photography wave (if this makes sense). That’s why i really like when people look directly in my direction when i shoot: to me, that instant feels like a kind of a confession that we make together. But you can’t get confessions by force, that is torture. In the same way, i feel that people won’t tell you something they’re not up to, and here is where the environment plays a role. You need to think about how you feel in that place, which emotions it provokes in you, then look for those signs around: if you are emotionally open, things start to talk to you.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

Spend time in the place where you decided to shoot (photographers call it “working the scene”), don’t look at the subjects at the beginning: the only thing you need to care in the first moment is light, shadows, reflections, sounds, the whole movement of what is going on. The goal is to get sensitive to the light environment and start to feel part of that instead of feeling part of all the moving crowd… i know it can sound too shamanic to be real, but “getting invisible” actually requires some sort of meditation: you need to feel part of the environment in order to feel invisible, and when you start to actually believe you that are “out of the flood”, you will be much more focused on what happens around you, more sensitive to the interaction between subjects and light, more effective in reaching your shot when you see it.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

Well, of course having a good gear helps. But a good gear may also be “the one that makes you feel powerful” and this doesn’t come only with pixels and fast focus. Just to give you an example: I spent my last 5 photography years shooting with an entry-level reflex, mostly using a Nikkor 55 f1.2 analogue lens without autofocus that I inherited from my father’s old gear. When i started taking picture with that lens I fell so in love with what I saw that I didn’t feel the need to go any further. And that used to work for me, until i started to get upset about loosing moments that I wanted to catch, just because i missed the focus or focusing could require too much time. At the same time I started to feel the need of a camera that could allow me to shot at slightly higher ISO than 800, because I wanted to be free to shoot in a larger variety of situations. In a few words: i had more energy than my tools allowed me to express but I definitely wanted to express myself. That is the reason why I very recently bought my first professional camera, a Nikon d750 with a very classic 50mm 1.4 G lens. I’m currently working on buying a 24-120 f4 G to substitute my old DX 18-105, a lens that i really consumed (mostly at the beginning) along with the 55 I was talking about. But the majority of my instagram feed is currently made with my old gears.

Are there any books you would recommend?

At the beginning i remember that i learned a lot from “The photographer’s Eye” by Michael Freeman, because it changed the way i saw the images, starting to notice a lot of composition issues. Talking about photographer’s books, i don’t know what i could recommend, since i mostly consult online free stuff to be honest. I found Eric Kim’s web blog extremely helpful, you can find a lot of free practical e-books that he made, articles about techniques and essays about famous street photographers. From the cultural point of view, i’m a very DIY and open access guy. Otherwise i mostly buy philosophy essays or graphic novel books.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

Walking, walking, walking. This is what inspires me more. Besides, i actually find a lot of inspiration in my Instagram feed, since I have the opportunity to see an incredible variety of awesome photographers. I also get really stimulated when somebody gives me a task, when somebody relies on me: then i know i will try 100% to demonstrate my worth (I like feeling appreciation, it’s a bit narcissistic, I know) and put myself further than what I would usually do. Of course this happens rarely in photography, since you usually work alone and submit your work instead of getting something assigned. In general, I get very stimulated by the social environment: having good, active people around, sharing our experiences and desires is something that definitely gives me braveness and motivation. In order to sing, I need some music around. But of course i know i have to work more on my self motivation. After all, I’m just at the beginning  of my way, whatever it may be.

Lorenzo Boffa

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Learn From Experience: Vito Lauciello

I’m Vito Lauciello, a photographer and Videomaker born in a small neighbor Bari, Italy. I’m 27 years old but I’ve been photographed since I was a child. I’ve always fascinated my photograph, especially the retreats and seeing them I’ve always liked to imagine what happened to the subject a moment before and after the step. What I’d like to show with my photographs is a feeling, an emotion, and not just stop at the aesthetic aspect of the photo, but create a photo that makes the viewer reflect.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

My working method is mainly based on a first phase of study whatever project it is. In most cases this first phase is the one that takes the longest time. Then I search a subject or an environment that have the characteristics that are best suited to the project.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

I prefer to shoot in analog, to develop and to print everything independently, in order to manage everything, to have full control, to make mistakes and try again until a final result is achieved that is excellent, without commissioning to external laboratories.

So the tools I use are an analog camera, film, chemists, a dark room and a lot of patience.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

January 2018. I met a person who has drastically changed and improved my life,  my way of seeing the world, my way of thinking, living and working. And obviously all of this has brought only a positive change in my photography, making me grow a lot.

In fact every single photograph encloses (in addition to the subject or the beautiful composition) all life, all experiences, all emotions and not only of those that took it.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

I don’t think I have ever had situations of great difficulty in my career.

Perhaps only once time is happened that in my project “/so·spen·sió·ne/” I had a loss of chemicals in the tank that contained the film, creating an artifact at the bottom of the film during the development.  Then, analyzing the film, I noticed that that development error gave added value to the project, emphasizing the feeling that makes the subject “suspended”

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

I always get a lot of inspiration from the environment we choose as a Spot. I really like to create any kind of contrasts between subject and environment, with light effects or through the study of sensations or emotions evoked by colors.

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

I don’t think I have any secret techniques. I often really like filtering images through objects interposed between the subject and the lens, creating reflections or light effects.

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I have several digital and analog cameras. My principal camera is the Canon Eos 5d mark IV combined with a canon 50mm f1.2 L, Sony a7III, Sigma art 35mm f1.4, canon 24-70 f2.8 II, Canon 100mm f2.8 L. My favorite is the MAMIYA RZ67 with 110mm f 2.8, then Canon A1 with canon 50 f1.8, and Canon Eos 5 (which was given to me by an unknown person whom I have never seen again in my life).

Are there any books you would recommend?

Yes, of course.  I think that every photographer should read these books:

“La chambre claire” of Ronald Barthes, “Lezioni di fotografia” of Luigi Ghirri,

“Fotografia” of Ansel Adams, “MOMENTUM”of Aaron Tilley.

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

My creativity is certainly stimulated by the observation of everything that surrounds me, by the curiosity to discover always new things, traditions and above all the history of the people I meet. The information that appears to me on social media and magazines also helps,  of course.

Vito Lauciello

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Learn From Experience: Paolo Ferruzzi

Learn From Experience: Paolo Ferruzzi

Born in Arezzo (Italy), in 1968. Almost self-taught, I start taking amateur shots and in 2015, by chance, I discover the world of “Polaroid” and instant photography. At the end of 2016 I joined Polaroiders Italia and attended Alan Marcheselli’s workshops. This is how my addiction started!

Today, for my shots, I preferably use vintage cameras and equipment, rather than new ones.
My recipe is made of natural light, films of all kinds, sometimes even expired, and a lot of passion for this analogue photography, which despite its age, new technologies and millions of pixels is still made of negative, positive and emulsions and retains all its charm, its vintage flavor and its magic that make it unique, unrepeatable, just like those photos in that little frame where, a chemical process, transforms emotions into images.

I usually define that of Polaroid as “impressionist photography”, where the binomial instinct-instant is best realized.
I exibited my Polaroids in Bologna on the occasion of ISO600 international, Riccione, Roma, Pescara, Piacenza, Varese, Savignano sul Rubicone, Catanzaro e Castelfranco Veneto and was selected for Instant Art Paris 2020 unfortunately canceled for covid.

What are the rules of your photographic work?

My first rule is: run !! My work arises spontaneously, suddenly, from the impulse that  an object, a light, an image, an emotion can arouse, but it’s a matter of moments, then the light changes, the emotion fades, images slowly disappear as a dream when one awakes. So, I have to run, fast, so as not to lose the moment that crystallizes all this in that magical alchemy made of emulsions, positive and negative rising directly in your hands in a few minutes.

Is for this reason that I use to define the instant photography as Impressionist Photograpy.

Is there a particular combination of techniques and tools that you think makes the difference?

No, I think the difference is dictated by the idea. If there is an idea there is a photograph. The technique or tools you use can only make it more intelligible. You can also take pictures with a few euro camera if this is able to tell your idea.

Tell us about an experience that definitely changed the way you work and made you grow.

Surely the numerous workshops and shooting sessions I attended with the photographer Alan Marcheselli determined my growth and enriched my knowledge and passion for instant photography: it was exciting to discover and undestand the “anatomy” of a Polaroid film with Alan and apply this knowledge to artistic creations contained in a 7.7×7.9 cm frame.

Anyway, I think that every single shot represents an experience that every time changes my way of working and makes the difference in the next one.

Was there ever a difficult situation? How did you react? Tell us.

On last March 9th, when the total lockdown due to the covid19 pandemic was established in Italy, I was confused and really afraid of not being able to take shots, of not having the possibility, the ability and the opportunity.

Then I looked around, inside the walls of my house, and I discovered a new world ….

How do you relate to the environment and the subjects you portray?

They exist in symbiosis: one is an integral part of the other, they interact and interpenetrate in the story of the image… on the other hand, what would Little Red Riding Hood be without the forest?

I also ask you to share a bonus trick among your secret techniques.

I have no secret techniques. When I was asked how I made a particular shot I was happy to let other people participate. As I said above, a photography rise from an idea and this makes it unique. The idea should be secret and if so…. I’m sorry, but I will not tell you!!!

Tell us about your equipment, what kind of cameras do you shoot with?

I have a large number of Polaroid cameras. Both old and new: however I’m a “nostalgic” and I much prefer the charm of vintage: my favorite? The reflex cameras: polaroid SX70 and SLR680: style, photographic minimalism and timeless elegance; I love them, I have learned to know their “character” and their “behavior” in every situation: I now have a relationship of confidence with them, there is feeling, empathy, and they too have learned, over time, to understand my style, and they go along with me …. almost always; they have a few years but they are always ladies and as such they deserve all my due respect, patience and devotion. In some way…is a passionate love story: one day we get married and we’ll live happily ever after.

Are there any books you would recommend?

Yes, my first publication …. when it will be done! ( for you I will make a special price… )

What stimulates your creativity, what inspires you?

Every single light, object, geometry, emotion, stimulus that, in turn tells me a light, an object, a geometry, an emotion and a stimulus…

Paolo Ferruzzi